The organizers of Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts are taking a “slightly different” approach this year to kick off the annual event.
This year, Monsoon Festival is starting off with a stand-up comedy night at Elements Casino Surrey (17755 60 Ave.) on Aug. 9, followed by a four day “Industry Series” workshops Aug. 10 to 13.
Festival producer Gurp Sian said the comedy night will be a “highlight event” for this year in hopes of creating a new audience.
“We’ve been pretty theatre heavy for the first three years, which we did on purpose, trying to create a space for more South Asian theatre. There isn’t a lot of South Asian theatre that gets presented regularly, so we made a very conscious decision to focus on theater,” said Sian, adding that the comedy night will be a “slightly different” approach.
The reason for the comedy night, Sian said, is a couple years back the festival hosted a sketch comedy show.
“It was a huge success, very well received and it was this shot of energy… That sketch comedy show was kind of an in for people to come to the theatre and just come to this space and take part in something,” he said. “Comedy is just one of those things, those genres, where it’s very accessible… Almost anyone can enjoy a good night of comedy. Whereas if you have a very serious subject matter for a play, it might not be for everybody.”
Sian said the comedy night is “kind of breaking away from the mold” of traditional comedy shows. He said there won’t be a headlining comedian, but everyone will be on an “equal playing field, equal platform.”
The comedy night will include Rae Lynn Carson, Ash Dhawan, Rajneesh Dhawan, Al Hassam, Devon Kandola, Leena Manro, and it feature Kalyn Miles as the MC.
After the show, there will be a dance party featuring High Voltage Roadshow’s DJ Beatdrop. There will also be a cash bar and dinner menu available.
The show begins at 9:30 p.m., with doors opening at 8:30 p.m. It is a 19-plus event. Workshops are limited to 20 participants, unless otherwise stated.
Tickets for the evening are $20 (plus surcharges) in advance or $30 at the door. A reserved table with seven seats is $120 (plus surcharges), and in advance only.
Back again this year is the Industry Series workshops Aug. 10 to 13 in Surrey and Vancouver. The workshops are free “community-based initiatives,” according to Monsoon Festival’s website.
The Industry Series includes a reading of “Kaur” by Agam Darshi, and six workshops, such as Breath, Voice and Body Connection with Carmel Amit in Vancouver; Finding Your Core Essence (female acting workshop) with Agam Darshi in Vancouver; Digital Marketing with Amneet Athwal in Surrey; Strong Scenes, Stronger Characters (writing workshop) with Paneet Singh in Surrey; Comedy Class with Leena Manro in Vancouver; and Art and Anxiety: Mindfulness and your Artistic Practice with Gavan Cheema in Vancouver.
The Digital Marketing workshop with Amneet Athwal will be at Kwantlen Polytechnic University Surrey campus in the Fir Building in room 1364 on Aug. 12 from 3 to 5 p.m.
The Strong Scenes, Stronger Characters workshop with Paneet Singh will also be at KPU’s Surrey campus in the Fir Building in room 1364 from 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 12.
To register for any of the workshops, visit moonsoonartsfest.ca/industry-series.
Sian said Amit’s movement-based workshop has been a highlight in recent years, adding that it can be “somewhat intense” as it’s a five-hour day. The session focuses on breath, voice and body connection.
“It takes you out of your comfort zone,” Sian said.
Monsoon Festival, which is organized by the South Asian Arts Society, is now in its fourth year. It celebrates local performing arts, artists and the “wealth of knowledge they have to offer individuals and our community at large.”
The inaugural festival in 2016 was organized to echo similar events in India, where festivals celebrate the arrival of the wet-and-windy season with dance, music, theatre, film and other performing arts.
– With file from Tom Zillich